The following article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Green Energy Ohio News Magazine. Read below, or view in PDF format.

Power Purchase Agreement Supplies the Toledo Zoo with 30 percent of its Energy Needs, Giving New Life to Brownfield Site

A former 22-acre brownfield site in Toledo is now home to a 2.1 Megawatt (MW) solar array which supplies power to the Toledo Zoo.

Rudolph/Libbe and GEM Energy, of the Rudolph/Libbe Companies, have designed, developed and constructed the 28,000 panel solar array, which is among the largest in the nation to supply power to a zoo.

The solar array and property is owned by a group of local investors led by Rudolph/Libbe Companies. Under an exclusive power purchase agreement, the Toledo Zoo is purchasing enough power to supply approximately 30 percent of its electrical energy needs, significantly reducing the zoo’s carbon footprint.

The project was built with Calyxo solar modules, which use innovative thin film technology developed in Toledo. Nextronex, of Toledo, provided the inverters, combiner boxes, and distributed architecture for the solar array. AP Alternatives LLC, of Ridgeville Corners, supplied steel racks for the solar modules. The ground-mount system contains no moving parts. The array will produce approximately 2.6 MWh per year.

Buffer areas have been planted around the perimeter of the solar array and common areas with a variety of trees and grasses native to northwest Ohio.

“Environmental stewardship is an integral part of the Toledo Zoo’s mission,” said Jeff Sailer, Toledo Zoo executive director.” This solar array supports the Zoo’s mission by using cleaner and greener energy, reducing reliance on non-renewable energy while providing an inspiring example for Zoo visitors.”

Energy cost and environmental stewardship are increasingly important to our customers in today’s global economy,” said Bill Rudolph, chairman, Rudolph/Libbe Companies. “We’re honored to support the Toledo Zoo’s mission of environmental stewardship through this project. This is an exciting time for Rudolph/Libbe and GEM to be helping our customers manage their energy needs.”

Local union labor from northwest Ohio constructed the project, which created about 60 construction jobs.

“We employ many of the area’s most skilled, dedicated and experienced tradespeople. We were proud to put them to work on this solar array,” Jason Slattery, director of solar, Rudolph/Libbe Inc. said.

Toledo Zoo Brownfield Site

“This project is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to benefit the zoo and the community,” Slattery added. “We took a contaminated brownfield site [shown above], which is negative burden for the city, and turning it a positive for the city of Toledo and the Toledo Zoo. This is a huge win for our community.”

In 2010, Rudolph/Libbe also designed and built the Toledo Zoo’s SolarWalk. The SolarWalk uses more than 1,400 solar panels and was designed to resemble a snake winding along the perimeter of the zoo parking lot to the entrance. Last year, the SolarWalk generated 99,041.29 kWh of electricity.